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The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse Reviews

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Super Reviewer

January 21, 2009
In spite of the efforts of men like Johannes Schultz and Gustave Le Bon, hypnosis was often viewed as something supernatural or other-worldly well into the mid-twentieth century. This was not lost on German director Fritz Lang who made full use of public misconception here in this spin off of M. Though it's science is flawed, the rest of the film is well ahead of it's time.

Lang's use of sound to tie scenes together (i.e. a ticking time-bomb becomes a man tapping on his breakfast egg) worked so well that similar effects are still being used today. The specter of Dr. Mabuse and his hypnotic mind control manifests itself in ghostly apparitions which Lang presents in transparent fashion, complete with makeup that is almost as effective and frightening today as it was in 1933.

Don't expect this to be in the same league as Lang's landmark crime drama M, to compare the two would be unfair. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is much more of a ghost story, a horror film, than it's predecessor but it is very much a classic in it's own right. Anchored in realism but delving far further into the macabre and the surreal.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2009
Fritz Lang always makes such an interesting study, and despite having not seen the rest of the series, I really enjoyed this film. Lang's oeuvre is a forerunner to many of the films - and genres themselves - that we've come to take for granted. This installment in the series is a gangster film, effectively, except for the gang is more hell-bent on terrorist objectives than good old-fashioned cash-grabbing. Now add a haunting on top of the standard gangster fare, and make it all look like the first noir film you can imagine... you're basically there. Not the easiest to watch (as it's over 70 years old and the editing jumps around due simply to the restoration efforts made), but well worth it, once you're into it Lang's film proves exciting. And of particular note, there's one scene where an evil directive to the gang of terrorists is found to be coming from a recording... still quite topical, surprisingly...

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2008
"the testament of dr. mabuse" is fritz lang's perverse thriller upon mental hypnotization as manipulative apparatus of evil saboteurs.

dr. mabuse is a deranged assylum patient who scrabbles abstract manuscripts to puzzle his patriachist who descends as his surrogate puppet headleader of underground destructive activities. eventually evil is infectious in its ceaseless delivering.

the scene of patriachist being possessed by dr. mabuse's evil spirit is macabrely spooky. mabuse with piercing sight and slanted sharp nose penetrates into the doctor's soul, and the envirnoment is hauntingly surrounded with the disfigured skulls of abnormal sinister men upon the shelf as specimen. one evil passes forward another as the vicious circle that is a metaphor of nazi's brain-rinsing control over the germany.

lang transcends the patriachist/inmate reversion into a mythical analogy of social criticism, and the case pf dr. mabuse would be one of early cinematic human-beast who pestles the world in his absolute demonology that is satan conquers all in the end, far more sinister than the anthony hopkins' "cannibal lecter".
Ken S

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2007
Great psychological crime drama from the master Fritz Lang

Super Reviewer

December 1, 2007
cool early german crime thriller expressing the common theme of man's anxiety in the industrial age. very good special effects for 1933! mabuse reminds me of a bond villain
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 23, 2006
Legend has it Joseph Goebbels held a meeting with Fritz Lang to tell him 2 things: 1) That he was banning this movie, and 2) that the Nazi Party wanted to hire Lang as their propaganda filmmaker. Lang left Germany that night. If that story is true then Nazis had a way of banning amazing works of art. The first 5 minutes of this movie prove its brilliance, as do the special effects and the final chase scene, which was actually pretty scary with the way the trees were lit. But the scene where an insect-eyed Mabuse possesses Baum is one of the scariest things I've ever seen. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse started off slow (between that and the subtitles I was done in before the first 45 minutes before finally getting through the whole thing on a 3rd try) but I'll be damned if that last hour isn't worth it.
Marion R

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2009
There is a lot of neat stuff in here, the special effects of the ghost of Mabuse was just so cool, but in other parts the film dragged. All I wanted to do was to edits some scenes out, the unbearable long fire scene at the chemical plant, ,but especially the flashback scenes which I felt were unnecessary. Overall it was just okay.
Tom S

Super Reviewer

March 10, 2008
Fantastic, underrated Lang film.
January 10, 2010
Lang waited longer than just about anyone to make the jump to sound, but when he made the jump it wasn't just background noise. Sound is one of the main characters.
May 19, 2009
Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse) is the story of a police inspector's attempt to stop some criminals who are counterfeiting money and murdering people. The inspection gets kind of weird as the criminals seem to be ordered around by a guy named Dr. Mabuse who is in an insane asylum and will not speak or do much of anything. This film is actually the second film in a trilogy of films pertaining to Dr. Mabuse, but the other two films aren't particularly famous. I thought this was pretty interesting although the ending seemed kind of underwhelming.

For an early sound film, this film is particularly noteworthy for its rather sophisticated use of sound. Like Lang's previous film, M the sound techniques used in this film are rather advanced. Both films make use of leitmotif, a recurring musical theme pertaining to a particular place, person, or idea. The film also uses sound that is misidentified by the audience (a pocketwatch spring unwinding, intended to simulate a telephone's ring; a gunshot masked by the sound of car horns; the ticking of a bomb changing to a spoon tapping on an eggshell). The film also had some pretty advanced special effects considering the time it was made.

While this film is certainly pretty good, it does not live up to Lang's M which is a vastly superior film. This may be more enjoyable than Lang's Metropolis, but realistically it's not as good as that film either. This is definitely worth viewing, but this won't go down as one of cinema's masterpieces like the aforementioned films.

Ken D

Super Reviewer

October 4, 2008
I've really been getting into the movies of Fritz Lang letely. They are always so well written and complex. Even though The Testament of Dr Mabuse isn't the best on of his movies that I've seen, this is still a very watchable and enjoyable movie.
April 25, 2008
Dr. Mabuse is a James Bond Villain long before Bond. Better action thriller than much of what is made today.
March 6, 2007
Fritz Lang's 1933 crime thriller is a prophetic message of the industrial, dehumanizing horror that the 20th century still has in store for the world. The film resolution and special effects are remarkable for its time.
December 5, 2006

Wow this film really took me by surprise. It excited me throughout in ways Lang's previous film, M, only accomplished at its climax; with a more socially relevant (today) screenplay as well as a more intensely original and metaphorically charged use of sound. A fantastic piece of cinema, definitely my favorite of Lang's films (so far).
August 11, 2006
I really liked this one. Probably my favorite Lang movie thus far. I liked the story and the deliverance of it. The resolution was a little weaker than I wanted it to be. But overall the film is really good and strong.
July 16, 2006
My #34 film of all time. This is so overlooked, but is so incredible, and just such good telling of the famous Dr. Mabuse.
July 2, 2014
Shorter but to the point, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a great sequel that is quite tense, interesting and features some memorable characters. Another Fritz Lang classic.
December 7, 2013
My Favorite Thriller Film Is 1991's The Silence Of The Lambs.
June 17, 2013
Banned in Germany in 1933 by no other than Josef Goebbels
March 27, 2013
Compared to most films in Hollywood in the 1930s, Fritz Lang's mystery thriller The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is years ahead of the game in terms of plot and camera techniques. There are some shots in this movie that would not be seen until Orson Welles' famous Citizen Kane, which forever changed the cinema. However, I think it's safe to say that Lang was doing the same thing in Germany at the time when Nazi rule was in the wake. In this complex and filling story, a veteran criminal with a brilliant mind has been in an insane asylum for ten years yet is writing memoirs that seem to predict crimes happening outside. The Inspector Lohmann attempts to solve this case, not knowing how strange and convoluted it really is. Despite the complexity of it, this film is rather easy to follow and boasts some great performances and use of sound. Considering this was only Lang's second film using sound, it is a wonder he did what he could with it. The movie opens with a noisy print shop and a man hiding behind a huge trunk. The loud and obnoxious noise of the printer continues all throughout the scene and shows what sound can really do to a film. All in all, Lang shows his pioneering ability to use the resources available in ways no one had thought of at the time. There are hints of German Expressionism here, but mostly just a well-told and engaging detective story that certainly will not age any time soon.
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